Employee Demotivation – Causes and Solutions!

Demotivation is contagious: even one demotivated employee who constantly cribs about work or other undesirable factors can quickly work on demotivating others too. Organizations are prone to the dangers of demotivation at all times. However, it’s important to be aware of it and to recognize and tackle it without delay.

To tackle demotivation effectively, an organization must know the reason behind its lackluster attitude. If a boss or colleague can help motivate such a coworker, it could go a long way to boost the employee’s morale and motivate him to be optimistic and have a positive attitude.

Causes of Employee Demotivation:

  • Lack of Appreciation: An employee feels unappreciated for his efforts.
  • Too much Work: An employee feels overburdened with a disproportionate chunk of work which renders him unable to perform his duties well and punctually.
  • Lack of Clarity in Work: An employee flounders at work due to lack of clarity on his various tasks.
  • Favoritism: These refer to unfair practices that favor one worker over another.
  • Mistrust: This deals with an employee resorting to micromanaging everything, displaying mistrust in a coworker’s capabilities.
  • Miscommunication: Free flow of information is withheld or information is provided only on a “need-to-know” basis. This can be demotivating as it proves that the boss or organization does not fully trust its employees to share all available information on a project.

What Managers Can Do?

  • Listen and get involved: Listen to the said and the unsaid. Body language can speak volumes about the atmosphere in an organization, read it and do the needful, if it needs correction.
  • Promote Teamwork: Teamwork is the way to go, pitting one against the other can only be counterproductive.
  • Praise and Encourage: Simple praise and words of encouragement for a task well-done are always welcome.
  • Give Information Freely: Let people know of your plans and change of plans, if any.
  • Appreciate and Acknowledge: Appreciation of a task and acknowledgement of efforts put in are wonderful morale boosters.
  • Show concern and extend help whenever possible: This makes life easier and better both for the employee and the organization.

Everyone needs to be motivated or enthused in all aspects of life. Motivation is the key to a happy and productive organization. For an employee to work well, the essence of motivation lies in him putting in his entire effort into his work and, at times even to go beyond doing prescribed tasks.

Motivation plays an important role in employee productivity, quality and speed of work. When employees lack motivation, these factors are greatly affected. So, a positive and motivated environment at the workplace is important to keep employees motivated and enthused.

Do share your thoughts on the same.

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Written By

Asma Zaineb is a Marketing Manager at CommLab India. She is responsible for generating quality leads for sales via inbound marketing.

Tags: HR Training
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11 comments on “Employee Demotivation – Causes and Solutions!
  1. Tom Moffitt says:

    Agree with, “…it’s important to be aware of it and to recognize and tackle it without delay.” Kill the cancer before it spreads. The question is what is “it?”

    Consider another perspective. Motivation is personal. Perhaps morale is the culprit and the environment is where leaders focus to have a positive impact on morale. All those factors mentioned are valid, including many hygiene factors (Hertzberg). However, they influence morale in the workplace. And morale is a critical component that determines how motivated (or not) people are to be productive employees.

    Could we add to the list of what managers an do? Get up close and personal, not necessarily outside work personal. But from the standpoint of knowing what people like and dislike, knowing individual work habits, sensing when someone is having one of those challenging days, or getting a feel for when something outside the workplace is affecting performance.

  2. Liné Rudolph says:

    I think people have the need to belong to something, whether it is a team or a specific group or specific department. In this sense of belonging, I think people have the need to be acknowledged for the value that they add to this team/group/department. If this need is fulfilled, they experience some meaning in life. If they believe that these needs aren’t fulfilled, it becomes a matter of self-deception. They criticise others and accordingly mirror their own feelings of denial of being worse than the rest of the team/group/department or individuals (based on the books of Leadership and Self-Deception, The Anatomy of Piece). Greetings, Liné from South Africa

  3. jake3_14 says:

    The #1 cause of employee dissatisfaction, according to my highly unscientific survey during employee happy hours, are incompetent managers who have no background in what their staff does, have poor supervisory skills, and are more concerned with maintaining their own status than in supporting and cultivating their staff.

    The #2 cause of employee dissatisfaction, according to the same poll, is that America has been raped by big business and the feeble regulatory/retaliatory responses from the federal gov’t., which seems captive to these industries, leading to a real unemployment rate of 22%, people losing their homes, family strife, and general despair. The fact that the poll participants work for these rapacious institutions causes them to support the alcoholic beverage industry more than would otherwise be likely.

  4. jake3_14 says:

    What can managers do?

    Mostly, resign. Then let the staff have the majority of input on hiring managers 1 and 2 levels above them. Second, they can send managers to Supervising 101.

  5. Rich Wheeler says:

    Great comments.

    To Tom’s comment, I would add that a good manager focuses on what his people do well rather than on what they mess up. Doing something you weren’t designed for and then being criticized for doing it poorly is a real bubble-burster.

    To Liné’s comment, I would add that leaders need to partner with their workers in personal development and then reward their growth. Nothing destroys confidence and morale like becoming a dinosaur does. Being stuck in a 180 mile per day commute, I couldn’t continue my formal education. In 20 years of that, I had only two bosses who handed me something they wanted me to study, outside of an annual evaluation.

    To Jake3_14′s #1 comment about incompetent managers: Blame executives who force all managers to cross-train. I doubt many front-line managers really want to work outside their backgrounds. Cross training is great for those heading up the corporate ladder, but let them help domain managers, not replace them.

    I’d also add that managers need to show the same loyalty to their people that they want. I’ve seen managers place unrealistic burdens on their people because they didn’t consult their people with an open mind or know when to say “enough” to higher managers.

    Jake3_14 went political in #2, but he raises a great point. The constant erosion of our liberties and our futures do seriously discourage a lot of older employees who went to school before PC took over. The electorate has lost its understanding of American values. Why work hard when Social Security is broke because the retirement funds they said you were accumulating — what’s left after they raided SS to pay for general fund spending — have gone to pay for trespassing foreigners’s retirements? Why work that extra 20 hours per week when promoters of class warfare increase your tax rate, saying it’s “unfair” for you to earn more? Why work hard to pay for everybody else’s health insurance and then be thanked by having your choices taken away?

    I don’t mean to politicize back at Jake, just to state that this “fundamental transformation” of America over the last generation has demotivated a lot of workers. If I did want to politicize, I would ask, “what’s going to become of our economy when everybody becomes equally demotivated?”

  6. Jim Velos says:

    Assumption #1: Only mature adults are hired.
    Assumption #2: The business has a real training program in place.

    If both assumptions are true, managers should lead people to a common goal and allow individuals to manage themselves. This allows the great people to rise to their potential. It also allows the organization to identify and rid itself of the diseased employees.

    Generally speaking, it is the marginal employees and managers that cause most of the internal ruckus. When they are removed you are left with an organization that the competition can only dream about.

  7. Organizations that conduct personality-type trainings, find they have far less problems with employee demotivation. When people understand each other’s preferences, they know how to relate to one another that results in a positive influence.

  8. Govind Kuber says:

    Let me apppreciate first for the topic and the the ways it had been framed by Asma Zaineb.

    Employee getting Demotivated is not new things in the industry. Later Organization suffers by loosing some good Employees. Long term Its not good for any company for the growth, If company wants to grow they need a good people who can help to grow who can put there heart and passion to make it big. Provided if they are not demotivated.

    Its a nice and very much impressive blog, Add to this point I want to make a note that

    • No Work/ No Quality work: An employee has no work or the background what he carried, if the work is not up to the mark. It bring the employee to the frustration. the future of every employee depend on what they learn or what they deliver.

    • If the Manager assigned the work to the person who is less potentioal or A manager who is less capable of solving the Project related issue, that makes less learing from the seniors who suppose to drive the project.

    Every organization know this but still solution is awaited to for making a Happy working Organization.

    Thank you
    Govind Kuber

  9. Mark Takefman says:

    Factor that demotivates: People who don’t understand the value of failure. I learn most from my mistakes. I’ve always told my staff that they are allowed to take chances, make mistakes and then learn from them. This is a natural process of life, it’s one of growth, interaction and excitement. Bob Dylan wrote that “there’s no success like failure, but failure is no success at all.” True but we can turn lemons into lemonade.

  10. technicada1 says:

    Hey JAKE3_14
    How does that Liberal Socialist Kool-Aid taste? Companies don’t exist to empower employees. Try telling your union bosses that the employees should have the power to hire and fire THEM! You’ll be picking the chicken-salad off your face after they’ve gotten through laughing in it for the rest of the day!!

  11. israrul haque says:

    How can the demotivated bosses motivate workers.
    Unless one has developed the sense of belonging with the organization,unless he has a sense of accountability unless he has a reasonable authority he will not be able to influence his workers.
    The boss at times feels the potential threat by motivating too much his subordinates hence he wants them to under perform to maintain his superiority

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